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Opinion September 28, 2016

Plus Letters to the Editor

View of Santa Cruz County circa. 1870s

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

A century and a half later, it’s impossible to fully understand the mood and intrigue of the political landscape here at the time that Santa Cruz incorporated. But I’m fairly certain that Geoffrey Dunn’s cover story this week is as close as I’ll come. As always, his research is meticulous, but what’s most remarkable about it is how it brings that research to life. It feels like picking up the paper of the day and reading about the drama of Santa Cruz’s move toward cityhood, but with the added benefit of knowing how history now views the legacy of these players and their actions.

Nor does it shy away from the darker side of Santa Cruz’s 19th-century development, and one of the nuances I was surprised to see already existed was the tension between North County and South County. It provides a striking context for the political battles we still see today in these pages, like the split over Measure D.

That said, let’s put all that divisiveness aside this week, and come together not only for the commencement of Santa Cruz’s 150th anniversary celebration, but also for the Watsonville Film Festival. As I write about in this issue, the festival, which runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 2, is the result of a massive effort by a dedicated group of people led by Consuelo Alba to not only entertain us and explore intriguing cultural issues with some great films, but also to restore a part of South County’s heritage with the re-opening of the Fox Theater in Watsonville. I’ve seen what they’ve done to the place to prep it for the festival, and it’s downright amazing. Whatever part of Santa Cruz County you live in, get yourself over there to support them this week.

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Letters to the Editor

Bike Friendly?

Santa Cruz will never be “bicycle friendly.”

I’m an experienced cyclist/commuter with over 85,000 miles logged on my bikes, but I’m about ready to hang it all up.

So long as a rider has to depend on all the drivers to make no mistakes and behave predictably each and every day, it will remain dangerous to be a bicyclist. We always get the worst of any bike/car interaction.

In addition to abysmal road maintenance and near-universal disregard of the recent three-foot rule for passing us, we have to contend with car doors being flung open suddenly in our path, cars turning abruptly in front of us and—very dangerous—the still-common practice of using a cellular phone while driving. Folks, put those things in your trunk before you get in your car.

The crowded, near-gridlock traffic on the afternoon commute leads to frustrated drivers, flaring tempers and chances taken which can easily kill or maim us cyclists. The most recent event which occurred to me was on backed-up Soquel Drive near Soquel Avenue when a driver, tired of waiting, I suppose, decided to turn into a driveway toward a business without warning.

There was no possible way I could have avoided being struck—there was no time to react, it was so fast—but he stopped with centimeters to spare. Whether he saw me or not, I’ll never know.

It does not seem to matter how many lights you have or that you follow the rules of the road.  

Now it is that time of the year that I see the drivers shading their eyes to the rising sun; it’s all the more risky.

I wish I had a solution, but at least ditch the cell phones when behind the wheel.

Pureheart Steinbruner | Aptos

Bike Friendly

It takes me only five minutes more to ride my electric bike to and from work than if I drove my car. When riding my E-bike I go through two stoplights. When driving my car, I go through 11! I feel very safe riding my bike to and from work due to the access of Arana Gulch.

I look forward to future improvements in our transportation system. Measure D will give us better roads, speed up emergency response, improve safety for children walking and bicycling near schools, expand safe bike routes, maintain senior and disabled transit services, improve traffic flow on highways and reduce dangerous neighborhood cut-through traffic, improve our commuting issues, and give the community better access to our bus system. As a former bus rider of five years, I enjoyed using the system, but there is room for improvement. I look forward to more and improved transportation options in the near future. Please join me in voting Yes on Measure D.

Joanne Noce, RN | Santa Cruz

Thought for Food

It seems like there is always some special observance around the corner. There is even a World Day for Farmed Animals. It’s observed, fittingly, on Oct. 2 (Gandhi’s birthday). It’s intended to memorialize the tens of billions of animals abused and killed for food around the world.

My first instinct was to dismiss it. But, I wanted to understand the impact of my diet and my food dollars on others.

Recent undercover investigations showed male baby chicks suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground to death, laying hens crowded into small wire cages, injured pigs killed by slamming their heads against the concrete floor, and cows skinned and dismembered while still conscious.

As theologians debate whether there is life after death, I wondered whether these animals have a life before death, and why I should subsidize these barbaric practices.

I wonder no more, as I have now embraced a plant-based diet—green and yellow veggies, legumes, fruits, nuts, and some grains. Occasionally, I indulge in nut-based cheese or ice cream. Although I was motivated by compassion for animals, I have since learned that my diet is also great for my health and for the health of our planet.

Preston Daniels | Santa Cruz

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